The Korean writing system dates back to 108 B.C., when the area that is currently North Korea was occupied by China.
Some linguists believe that language may be a member of the Altaic language family. (Turkic, Mongol, Tungusic, and also the Japonic and Korean languages.)
In 1444 the true Korean alphabet, Hangul, was born and imposed two years later, during the reign of King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty.
Centuries later (during the 18th and 19th centuries AD) a new combination of writing came into existence: it was a mixture of Chinese characters (Hanja) and the Korean alphabet (Hangul). Over the years, the Chinese characters have been phased out.
Korean is spoken in North Korea and South Korea, China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, among other nations.
Some characteristics of Korean:
* The direction of writing was originally vertical and right to left, in accordance with it Chinese heritage. However, it is now very common that it is “westernized” and to see it written from left to right, horizontally.
* In its alphabet, the shapes created to represent consonants look to illustrate the movements made by the mouth when pronouncing them.
* The forms of the vowels are based on 3 pillars: man (vertical line), earth (horizontal line) and heaven (the period). In modern Hangul, the short line replaced the heavenly period.
* Spaces separate words.
* Words are formed from one or more syllables.
From a grammatical point of view, Korean resembles Japanese. In terms of vocabulary, there is a heavy Chinese influence.
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